Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ridicule, moi?

Barbie: What's my name?
Ken: What?
Barbie: What am I doing here?
Ken: Uh?
Barbie: You have glasses, you're supposed to be smart. Answer my questions, will you?!
Ken (offended): Hey! You have glasses too.
Barbie: Do I?



Yesterday I bought a fashion magazine.
Whenever I do that I am perfectly aware that it will be a mistake. But I did it anyway. For charity. Well, almost...the woman in the kiosk had probably seen less than 10 costumers that day and I had to buy something.

I took a quick look through it and realized I had paid to look at publicity, as it usually is. But worse than that, I had paid to watch publicity where all the women have their mouths slightly open. Have you noticed that? Well, do the test! Take a magazine and count the number of women that appear with their mouths not entirely closed. I haven't actually counted but I looked frantically through the pages trying to find a smile and the biggest I got was similar to Mona Lisa's.

As we all know, it's hard to find a commercial that isn't highly charged with sexuality nowadays, be it perfume, cereal or herpes-medicine. It has become so common that we don't even notice it anymore. But ten or fifteen years ago most of the things we see on TV commercials would be outrageous. But is this mouth-open phenomenon sexy?

Now what does a picture like this tell you? Hello, I'm a zombie with huge sunglasses, I live in a dark basement, I only come out at night. Beauty patterns change throughout the years and we usually adapt our tastes to what is mainstream. That's why fashion magazines are so dangerous. No one feels great with themselves after looking at one. We all feel like we lack something fundamental...be it a handbag, a lipstick or breast implants. Everyone wants us to buy something because "obviously" we're not good enough with what we already have. And that is also why it's good to look at a magazine with a critical eye and find it utterly ridiculous!
I had planned to write this post even before I read Niall and Kristen's
posts today, but they're all in the same line. Niall wrote about a shopping
center
and Kristen about
indulgence
vs. renunciation. And I think we all agree.

16 comments:

diyadear said...

ya sexy seems to be the synonym for advertising and publicity..u must have also noticed that there r no ads n no products which r not advertised without a gal model.

Chloe said...

the model in the 3rd picture looks dead. maybe she is advertising a funeral home.

Niall said...

I'll avoid any sexist statements about women with their mouths open and agree with all you've writen..I have been known on occaision to buy Vogue ..I don't know why..perhaps it's my fascination with images..but it may as well be a new car magazine, science fiction or ideal homes...they represent another reality..something removed from the 'What do I give my children in their sandwiches for school lunch' and 'who's walked into the house with dog crap on their shoe?' We do seem to be on a wavelength similar here!..The shopping centre and the glossy magazine...I think we need them as a 'Reality Check'...we shouldn't allow them to tell how we should be, but to remind us that what we are is real and good and enough.With 'bingo wings' 'VPL's' 'Nasal Hair' 'Spots' 'Birth Marks' 'Squints' and 'uneven teeth'..we are actually the reality and we are the beautiful people!

chrispito said...

very strange indeed. my parents used to get on my case about drawing and reading with my mouth open when i was a young lass.
i'm reading Foucalt's History of Sexuality. Have you ever heard of this book? He never finished writing it (his complete studies) as he died before he could. I wonder what he would have to say about this?

I find it interesting how 'public' sex is, and how a false/exaggerated representation of female sexuality through advertising affects how an individual viewer feels about her own sexuality.

Personally I am more concerned with how much these magazines make me covet *stuff.* I grapple with how much I like things, nice things. And I always, always have buyer's remorse, even if I am only spending $1.

Meow (aka Connie) said...

I know what you mean, about fashion magazines ... I tend not to buy them, they depress me !!
Hope you are well. It has been awhile since I dropped by ... hope to become more regular again now.
Take care, Meow

Kristen Hovet said...

i'm not exactly sure where i stand on this. i'm definitely pro-fashion, because i view fashion as a legitimate art-form. people who go into fashion do not do so in order to make others feel bad about themselves; they are pursuing something they have a passion for...and they see the beauty in form. it's like painting, but the canvas is the body.

in terms of body image, people would likely compare themselves to others and feel bad about themselves regardless of whether or not fashion magazines existed. this behaviour comes from human nature, not magazines.

i do think it's ridiculous to spend loads of money on clothing, and i despise the waste that characterizes a lot of the world today.

all that said, i don't like many fashion magazines because they're just not creative or innovative enough...or interesting enough. i love the ones that combine fashion and culture, from a more all-embracing perspective. i do love fashion spreads, though, in mainstream and more alternative magazines. i could do without most of the advertisements.

magazines have a way of triggering our empty spots, but so do a lot of things that conjure wonder and beauty. we feel bittersweet after watching a beautiful movie for example. i don't think it's bad to allow ourselves to feel these things. if anything, these feelings and emotions lead us to create and speak out, and instigate change.

it's natural for people to want to decorate their bodies. we've been doing it since the birth of humanity. the decorating and maintenance of the body could surely be more multi-faceted and compassionate, but i don't think the answer is to do away with a natural (and quite beautiful) urge to decorate and create wonder by provoking the imagination....through colour and form, etc.

and about all the models with their mouths open....yeah it's hot, but it would be great to see some variety!

Devil Mood said...

Diyadear: Yes, that's another one that's hard to find in a magazine!

Chloe: Completely! Prada, believe it or not, and not a funeral home.

Niall: I like the images too. It's good to go through a magazine but I can't help feeling depressed when I finish it. It's not uplifting, just like shopping centers aren't. I'd probably feel different looking through a magazine with 'real people'.

Chrispito: Funny that you mention it because me and Foucault have a thing. I haven't read that book yet, but I'm sure he could see it all coming.
About rhe *stuff* - it's the little Bull in you, isn't it?

Meow: Hey, welcome back! I know, they tend to depress me too. I'll see you around.

Kristen: That was a big comment! I'm not anti-magazines or fashion. If I hated them, I wouldn't buy the mag in the 1st place. I keep a collection of The Face magazines stored carefully because it was a different kind of mag - do you know it? I'm sure you'd love it.

Even though I like the images and seeing beautiful things seeing a magazine is not equivalent to watching a beautiful film - the final result is quite different for me. Magazines are frustrating; films are often hopeful.
But I'm not making magazines the scapegoat for the problems of society - they're simply a reflection.
Models nowadays don't seem happy, they look alienated.

Stephanie said...

A male friend once asked me, while paging through a fashion magazine: "Why are all of the advertisements in a women's magazine half-naked women?"
I actually have no idea. I don't tend to buy them...instead, I buy fitness magazines to read about exercise ;)

Kristen Hovet said...

yes, i see your point. the entire industry needs a jump start! and i find all the rabid fashion followers super ridiculous! you know...those socialites you see all done up in million dollar outfits that look completely over-the-top, all attending fashion shows as if their lives (and status) depended on it.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love clothes but never buy fashion magazines and never buy fashion as such either - I buy second hand all the time! There have been a lot of bad fashions recently! I've never worked out the open mouth thing either

Devil Mood said...

Stephanie: I understand how that could be ironic from a man's perspective but we never question it, do we? we should demand more men on our mags! :)

Kristen: I agree and I may start to sound repetitive but really balance and moderation are still the keys to dealing with fashion and all the rest, to me ;)

Crafty: That's another great way of recycling. I have a great second-hand coat that I love :)

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post. I was different and made me think.

DayByDay

phish said...

whew. ok. i shouldn't be here. the last commercial produced by my agency was banned in my country because of sexual content. as part of the team that created it, did i believe that it was necessary? no.

but can i deny the fact that the brand in question has amassed huge sales and brand recognition has gone up more than 100% from the time the commercial was aired? no.

ok. the product was men's underwear. so it had to be sexy. and a tad risque. it can be justified, hence.

but for instant noodles, or coffee? i dont really know.

Devil Mood said...

Day: That's good!

Phish: Well, you seem to have a critical and independent opinion about it, so that's great. Oviously I understand the need for sales AND the sexiness in men's underwear, so I couldn't criticize that. But who was more exposed in the campaign? Men or women? ;)

phish said...

neither. we just gave viewers a peep into the woman's mind. that was it.

Devil Mood said...

Phish: When you put it like that...sounds fair, as long as it wasn't bigoted ;)